Of course, we all know the tale of Cinderella. Though we may have grown up completely enchanted by the tale (I know I was), for many of us, Cinderella is considered the classic tale of a woman oppressed. Subjugated to a life of cooking and cleaning without ever getting out of the house, it is no wonder audiences rejoiced when the prince whisked her away for the good life in his ornate castle. With an increase of online communication and commerce, I keep thinking how that classic fairytale could have turned out even better if Cinderella had access to the Internet! She wouldn’t have needed a Fairy Godmother, and she probably would have operated a web business that would have given her enough confidence (and capital) to tell that mean stepfamily where they could shove their broomstick.
In a really smart piece in The New York Times Magazine, Virginia Heffernan heralds the World Wide Web as the technology that really liberated women. I must agree. Proof of women’s ever-expanding web-based lives are the plethora of women-geared websites, such as Seniorwomenweb.com, Womensmediacenter.com, Yahoo’s Shine.yahoo.com and feminist.com . Women are also building empires in their homes, surrounded by the same four walls that just about four decades ago, Betty Friedan insisted were closing in on them. We need a new version of Cinderella; one where Cinderella is running her own online business because the old story simply doesn’t ring true anymore. The Internet has changed the narrative of many women’s lives. And that’s a shoe that definitely fits.
Nichola D. Gutgold is an associate professor of communication arts and sciences at Penn State Lehigh Valley and
author of Paving the Way for Madam President (Lexington Books, 2006).